Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Referring to its position with Philadelphia at one end and New York City at the other. Two centuries and a few decades later, Franklin’s wisdom holds true in terms of sports loyalties.

“I am a die-hard Jets fan,” said a man to be known hereafter as Joe Namath, not because he is the genuine Broadway Joe but for the jersey he wore. It is a throwback jersey and it cost him $60.

Joe Namath drank and watched the Super Bowl at the Championship Bar and Grill on the corner of Chambers Street and Morris Avenue. He was acutely aware that the Eagles were playing the Patriots and the Jets watched on television but his enthusiasm was undiminished.

The Championship, an institution in the city’s Chambersburg neighborhood, might consider changing its sign to read The No Name Bar, not because it seeks anonymity but because so many of its patrons do.

“I’ve done real well so far,’’ said Namath, known as “Heater” to his friends according to him and the gold medallion hanging from his neck. Joe had a $1,000 bet on which team would win the coin toss, but had $600 riding on which team made the first sack, $300 on the first penalty, $600 on the first score and $300 on the first fumble.

Joe’s speech was a bit slurred as the evening progressed, but he never lost track of which team he had bet on for each instance, and he was careful to note that his bets were placed in Las Vegas. He insisted Nevada is one of two states where sports betting is legal, though he could not recall the other. Joe was certain that it is not, however, New Jersey.

“You are crazy,’’ said Namath’s friend and barstool neighbor John — no last name given.

John erupted into a call for Terrell Owens’ kneecap the first time he saw the Eagles star tackled.

“I would never wish anyone harm,’’ said John who, once he determined he was speaking to a reporter, insisted that he had larger things on his mind.

“People are dying in Iraq, but everything on the news is Eagles mania,’’ he said. “That’s not right.’’

An instant later New England scored, tying the game at 7-7. A perfectly enunciated expletive shot from John’s lips with enough force to crack the television screen. John, it turned out, was interested in staying above the fray but also had an interest in beating a spread.

“21-7 I need,’’ he said. “Don’t write that down.’’

At one end of the bar sat two gentlemen, Lester and his close friend with an encyclopedic knowledge of football but who drew a blank when asked his name.

‘”We’re here for the great food and the atmosphere,’’ said Lester. He wore a San Francisco 49ers cap, which he said was all he needed to say about his football loyalties.

Throughout the game Lester jotted notes on a sheet of paper upon which he had drawn an elaborate grid.

“He’s keeping score,’’ his friend explained vaguely.

Tony Dalpino, a resident of Chambersburg who is on a first name basis with many of the bar patrons — about the only basis possible — recognized the simple fact that, while not strictly legal, a wager makes sports more interesting to those people without a purer interest in the competitors.

“There are sports fans and there are gamblers,’’ he said. “You go back to the Greek Olympics and the Roman chariot races, and people were betting. It’s always made it more interesting.’’

Robbie Coval, a resident of Villa Park, was unafraid of giving first and last name both because his interest in the game was pure. He is a New York Giants fan and he would enjoy seeing the Eagles lose, for reasons involving regional, league and division affiliations.

“That finger where the Super Bowl ring goes? It will be empty,’’ he said in the first half of the game, alluding to the fact the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl.

“Hopefully,’’ he added after a pause.

A perky woman with ambiguous team loyalties roamed the bar selling raffle tickets. She gave her name as qiu qiu online Eileen but was vague about her last name. Her raffle tickets were drawn each quarter. She readily agreed that raffles are generally for charitable purposes, though Eileen was vague about the charity benefiting from her sales.